Pearl Witherington SOE Reports 4

13.9.1943. Pearl received the details of her mission. At this stage, Pearl must have felt excited and apprehensive. It is worth remembering her motivations for volunteering for the SOE. She desperately wanted to reunite with her fiancé, Henri, whom she hadn’t seen for over three years. Also, she railed against the injustice of the situation and was keen to kick the fascists out of France.

Pearl took 900,000 francs with her for her personal use and for the network. Also, a reminder that she had to wear the right skirt!

A letter written by Pearl before her departure for France. The letter, addressed to Vera Atkins, the ‘mother-figure’ at the SOE detailed Pearl’s wages, £350 per annum, a pittance when you consider the risks she was taking, a monthly allowance of £9 for her mother plus Christmas and birthday payments. As the eldest daughter, Pearl felt a great responsibility to support her widowed mother and three sisters. This she did, with aplomb.

Pearl’s cover story as secretary Genevieve Touzalin. By an amazing coincidence, ‘Genevieve’ lived on Rue Paradis, Marseille, a street that features in Operation Zigzag.

Pearl and the SOE informed Pearl’s mother that she was going to North Africa, and not into occupied territory. Did Mrs Witherington suspect a deception? If she did, she didn’t reveal her suspicions in her frequent correspondence with the SOE.